Ten-year-old Goa boy shoots to glory

By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, IANS
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

PANAJI - Ten-year-old Yash Padloskar comes across as a ‘minor’ but refreshing exception in a state where shooting is often viewed as an art practised by politicians, who spit and rattle out a volley of blanks on every election eve.

The ‘pocket-sized’ shooting prodigy, who hails from Mapusa, about 10 km from here, blazed a fiery trail in Ranchi, where he competed with the best shooters in the country at the 34th National Games. He finished 34th among the total 80 competitors.

All of 10, Yash toting an air rifle was a man among the boys, as he competed in the open category and participated in the qualifying round of the 10 meter air rifle event.

Speaking to IANS, his father Yogeshwar said that both he and his son have taken the National Games performance in their stride.

“He is a determined lad. Learning shooting did not come easy. We have no private shooting range of any kind in Goa. We used to travel six hours to Kolhapur (in Maharashtra) sometimes to practice the sport. That was three years ago,” Yogeshwar said.

Yash soon developed a passion for the polished wood-stock and the shiny, bullet-spouting barrel.

But tired after those six-hour, one-way journeys to the shooting range at Kolhapur, Yogeshwar then took a big, big decision.

Yogeshwar, who trades iron ore for a living, started a shooting gallery of his own in Mapusa in 2009. And he named it after his son, a Class 5 student.

When youngsters his age kicked football and played computer games, Yash pumped lead pellets into card paper targets for hours every day.

“It was a purely private initiative. There is not a penny I have received from the government. I have opened it for the use of other shooting enthusiasts,” said Yogeshwar, who is himself an accomplished shooter and has won several medals at the national level.

“I’m a shooter myself, but it is Yash’s own enthusiasm and love for the sport that is spurring him on. He has taken a genuine interest. Many say it is because of my insistence that he is doing this. But no; he has taken to it, I’m only here to support him,” the father-cum-coach said.

Yogeshwar has the distinction of winning three gold medals in the 10 metre air rifle event in the state in the open category.

As a coach, Padloskar senior has been a tough taskmaster. He ensures that Yash practises for two hours or more every day. The wonder kid has his own rifle, which costs Rs.1.5 lakh and weighs 4.776 kg.

The shooting gear may be a tad too heavy for Yash who barely weighs 40 kg, but a supporting stand and special shooting attire helps him keep his cool and focus on the target.

The ‘Yash shooting academy’ is well equipped with air rifles, air pistols, electronic target runners, as well as pipe-side air rifles, which are used in the Olympics and German made Anschutz air rifles.

“I want to make Yash India’s next Gagan Narang (world record holding shooter). I want to give my son the best and would not hesitate to even send him abroad,” Yogeshwar said.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at mayabhushan.n@ians.in)

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